The Nativity Wars (a re-post)


Besides the five nativities with movable figures, I also have several small, fixed nativity ornaments or sets. Here are two of my favorites (plus a star) that I have hanging on my bamboo plant next to my kitchen sink (I haven’t managed to kill it yet!). My sister bought the dark wood ornaments for me in Africa, and the Peruvian carved gourd nativity is from Ten Thousand Villages.


Along with a tree, our family decorates our house for Christmas with lots of Christmas books and five nativity sets: one I received as a child, painted by my grandmother; three others Dave and I received for our Christmastime wedding more than twenty years ago; and one that the twins’ Sunday School teacher gave them when they were in first grade.

The girls or I arrange them just-so, in careful semi-circles so all their faces can be seen…

And then we wait for the nativity wars to begin.

The first attack this year is sneaky. I don’t even see it happen. I walk through the dining room and notice a clump, not a semi-circle, of figures on top of the piano.

He’s been at it, I think.

I check the others. Two of the remaining four have been rearranged.

I put them back in semi-circles, but just a few hours later they are all huddled together again, a crowd rather than a scene.

We all love our nativities.

But son Jake likes them arranged a little differently than anyone else.

So every year we do “battle” during the Christmas season.

We start out with sneak attacks, but pretty soon it becomes open warfare.

But we’d never talked about why he liked his arrangement–we just thought it was one of Jake’s quirks–until a few years ago.

A longtime, long-distance friend was visiting during early December. She noticed the crowded nativity on the kitchen counter and began to rearrange it. I noticed what she was doing and laughed.

“It won’t stay that way.”


“Pretty soon Jake will come in here and push them all together again.”


And, suddenly, it hit me, the why. I couldn’t understand why I’d never seen it before.

“Because he wants them all close to Jesus, that’s why.” I was stating my revelation more than answering her question.

I tested my theory later that day.

“J-man, why do you like all the figures clumped like that? We can’t see their faces when you put them that way.”

His tone made it clear he was almost surprised by my reasoning. “But they can’t see Jesus when they’re all spread out.”


After all, what’s more important—that we see their faces or that they see Jesus?

It’s a busy, busy season, and we tend to get a little caught up with the celebration of it—and, often, with how others see us celebrate it.

But what’s more important—that they see us or that we see Jesus?

So gather as close as you can, crowd into Him, stretch high on tiptoes, do whatever you need to do to fix your gaze on HIM.

Because not only is that the absolute best for us, it’s also when others get glimpses of Him, too. When we press close to Jesus they want to see what we’re so excited to see. In our wonder and awe, they catch some of the fascination of Christ’s love for us.

From glory, He put on flesh—such limitation!—and then “humbled Himself…” to “death on a cross.”

All for love!

All for us!


II Corinthians 8:9 “You know the generous grace of our Lord Jesus Christ. Though he was rich, yet for your sakes he became poor, so that by his poverty he could make you rich.”

Note 1: I first wrote this several years ago, but I love posting it at Christmastime. We still continue the nativity wars at our house, but we let Jake win!

Note 2: Ten Thousand Villages has many beautiful nativities (from small ornaments to large sets). They make wonderful Christmas gifts! The link above takes you to a page with JUST nativities on it.

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